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Version 1.0

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Hooded Gnateater Conopophaga roberti

Harold F. Greeney
Version: 1.0 — Published September 13, 2013


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Distinguishing Characteristics

Male Hooded Gnateaters are distinctive, with a black head and neck, forming a "hood" extend down to the lower breast.  Males also have a white postocular tuft, chestnut brown upperparts, gray flanks, and white belly. Females are rather different with a rufous crown and (paler) rufous ear coverts. Females are gray below except for their white throats and bellies.

Similar Species

The extensive amount of black in the plumage of male Hooded Gnateaters is similar only to male Black-bellied Gnateaters (Conopophaga melanogaster). Hooded Gnateater is easily separated, however, by its much smaller size, smaller bill, and brown (rather than deep chestnut) back. The postocular tuft is also greatly reduced compared to that of Black-bellied Gnateater. Two species are, however, superficially quite similar, and the figure of "Conopophaga melanogaster" in Goeldi’s Album de aves amazonicas (1901-1906) is, in fact, a depiction of Hooded Gnateater (Cory and Hellmayr 1924). Female Hooded Gnateater is similarly much smaller than Black-bellied Gnateater females, has an all black bill, duller brown back, and rufescent brown ear coverts. Also, there is little or no geographic overlap between these two species.

Chestnut-belted Gnateater (Conopophaga aurita) are similar in size to Hooded Gnateaters, and males of the subspecies of Chestnut-belted that overlap with Hooded have black throats and breasts; but Chestnut-belted easily are separated by the chestnut brown crown and nape, duller back and wings, and by having the lower underparts buffy. Female Chestnut-belted Gnateaters are very different from female Hooded Gnateaters, having bright rufescent underparts.

Detailed Description

Adult male: In his original description, Hellmayr (1905a) described the type specimen, and adult male, as follows: "Top and sides of the head, throat, and fore-neck black ; broad postocular stripe silky-white; back, upper wing-coverts, and outer webs of the quills pale reddish brown; tail more olivaceous-brown; middle of the breast and abdomen white, sides pale greyish, under tail-coverts whitish. Bill black, lower mandible whitish". Later he (Hellmayr 1905b) expanded this description (again from the type) to the following: "Top and sides of the head, throat and foreneck black; postocular pencil of elongated feathers silky white; back and upper wing-coverts pale rufous-brown; quills dusky, outer webs and tertiaries pale rufous-brown, rather lighter than the back; tail rather more olive-brown. Sides of the body pale greyish with a slight olivaceous brown admixture on the flanks; middle of the breast and abdomen white; under tail-coverts whitish. Axillaries pale grey with white margins; under wing-coverts whitish, those near the edge of the wing black. Inner edge of the quills very indistinctly dirty greyish white; thighs dark grey with paler tips. Upper mandible black, lower one whitish".

Adult female: Hellmayr (1906) described the female as follows: "Forehead and pileum are of a dull russet brown, lores and superciliary region pale cinereous (not black), the white postocular stripe is rather narrower and bordered below by a tine blackish line. Cheeks, malar region and foreneck pale cinereous, throat white, ear-coverts rufescent brown; flanks more distinctly washed with brownish than in the male".


No specific information.

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: maxilla black; mandible pinkish dusky

Tarsi and toes: gray


Total length: 11-14 cm (Whitney 2003), 11.5 cm (Sick 1993), 12 cm (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, van Perlo 2009), 12.7 cm (Meyer de Schauensee 1970).

Linear measurements:


wing length 71.5 mm; tail length 39.5 mm; bill length 15 mm (n = 1, type specimen, male, Hellmayr 1905a, b)

wing length 69-72 mm; tail length 35-38 mm; bill length 15-16 mm (n = 9, Hellmayr 1906)

wing length 71.5, 71.5, 71.0 mm; tail length 37.0, 39.0, 41.5 mm; bill length (exposed culmen) 12.5, 11.0, 11.0 mm (n = 3, Naumburg 1937)

wing length 71.0 mm; tail length 32.1 mm; bill length (culmen from base) 15.0 mm; tarsus length 25.4 mm (n = 1, Novaes and Lima 1998)

wing length 71, 73, 71, 65, 70 mm; tail  length 37, 41, 35, ?, 37 mm; bill length (exposed culmen) 14, 13, 12, 14, 12 mm (n = 5; Novaes 1947)


wing length 65-69 mm; tail length 32-36 mm; bill  length 15 mm (n = 5, Hellmayr 1906)

wing length 69.5 mm; tail length 41.5 mm; bill length (exposed culmen) 11.0 mm (Naumburg 1937)

wing length 68, 67, 67 mm; tail length 36, 36, 35 mm; bill length (exposed culmen) 12, 13, 12 mm (Novaes 1947)


male: 21.0 g, 25.0 g (n = 2; da Silva et al. 1990)

female: 24.0 g (n = 1; da Silva et al. 1990)

sex unspecified: 23.0 g (n = 1, da Silva et al. 1990); 20.8 g (Oniki 1974); 23.0g, 25.0 g (n = 2, Novaes and Lima 1998)

Recommended Citation

Greeney, H. F. (2013). Hooded Gnateater (Conopophaga roberti), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.hoogna1.01